Outside the box

I identify as non-binary.  I am genderfluid and do not fit into either/or categories.  Yet the other day I was presented with my first official form (you know, besides facebook) that had more than two gender  options to choose from.  The options were  man, woman, or other.

And I chose woman.

I’ve been thinking on why I made that choice and I wanted to save my ideas here as a kind of historical marker in the journey of growing into whoever I eventually grow to be.  (I don’t know who that person is yet.  Hopefully they will be a calmer, more confident, more knowledgable version of who I am now.)

I chose woman in part because I gave birth to a son and a daughter, breastfed them for two and a half years each, and am known to many people as his mom, her mom, my mom, or just a mom.

I was also a wife for 19 years and was known to many people primarily as his wife.

And then of course I am known as daughter, granddaughter, sister, aunt, and cousin in a generation of only girls.  I am afab and I am predominantly parsed as a woman  every day of my life.

I acknowledge and feel and live my non-binary truth, but society often erases it even as it’s happening.  So you’d think if I had a chance to make my non-binary self official, that’s what I’d choose to do.

But I am seen as woman, and therefore treated as woman. Much of my experience, much of my personal history, is seated in womanhood.  I go through what women go through.  And in that respect, I do identify as woman.

Looking at the choices offered-   man, woman, other- I think:  I am not a man.  I am a woman.  I am other.

Other.  That damn word again.  I am other, and I am often othered by society (for many things, only not usually for gender).  But being othered is not something I would choose for myself.  Being othered is something that happens to me.  Being othered is something that I fight against.

In the end, all these choices are boxes.  They do not really represent any progress in society.  Are you man?  Are you woman?  Or shall we other you?   Being forced into an either/or box that doesn’t fit used to be the only option.  But if the new, additional option is simply to be othered…  That is not progress.

Other is the worst box to be in.

It is not a safe place to be.

My choice makes sense to me now.  I wonder what I’d choose, the later me, somewhere down the road.

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